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Study No. 1 

The Civic Federation 

Constitutional Convention Series 


General Considerations 

For the first time since 1868 Illinois has voted 
to revise her State Constitution through a Conven- 
tion elected for that purpose, and the adoption or 
rejection of the Convention's work by the voters. 
Sane progress, disastrous experiment, or utter 
stagnation, may result. Betterments can result 
only from a sound public opinion, based upon 
accurate information and study. Responsibility 
rests upon each citizen. 

Written and Compiled by 




Study No. 1 

The Civic Federation 

Constitutional Convention Series 


General Considerations 

For the first time since 1868 Illinois has voted 
to revise her State Constitution through a Conven- 
tion elected for that purpose, and the adoption or 
rejection of the Convention's work by the voters. 
Sane progress, disastrous experiment, or utter 
stagnation, may result. Betterments can result 
only from a sound public opinion, based upon 
accurate information and study. Responsibility 
rests upon each citizen. 

Written and Compiled by 

S«r»lar.v fi^ * 



» • < 

The Civic Federation Constitutional Convention Series 


This pamphlet is designed to be the first of a series of Consti- 
tutional Convention Studies dealing with various problems of Con- 
stitutional Revision applying specifically to the State Constitution of 
Illinois — problems which ought to have the earnest attention of all 
voters, and which will within a comparatively short time be ab- 
sorbing the attention of representatives chosen to sit in the next 
Illinois Constitutional Convention. 


Part I — Introductory Statement 


Illinois Faces a Ecal ProJ)leni .'. 

Progress and Peril in the Balance 5 

A Patriotic Eesponsibility 6 

Merit Is the Only Eeal Standard 6 

Subjects to Be Considered 7 

Part II — General Considerations 

What Is a State Constitution? 8 

Character and Origin 8 

Limits Powers Otherwise Supreme 9 

Excessive Limitations 9 

What Kind of a Constitution Is Needed? 10 

Some Limitations Are Vital 10 

How Revision by Convention Operates 11 

Most Exacting Tasks to Come 12 

Duties and Relations of Assembly to Convention 12 

Convention Has Broad Powers 13 

Method of Choosing Delegates 13 

History Sheds a Ray of Light 14 

Always a Chance for Independent Action 15 

When Should Revisions Be Voted On? 16 

Might Submit Constitution in December, ]9l!n 17 

Compensation Previously Allowed Delegates 18 

Qualifications of Delegates 19 

The New Constitution — How Submitted 20 

Experiences of Other States 21 

The Illinois Plan Best 22 

Cliaracter of the Delegates 23 

Pledging of Delegates a Bad Policy 2 o 

Published by 

The Civic Federation of Chicago 

The Temple, La Salle & Monroe Streets 
Chicago, Illinois 



For the fourth time in our State's history of one hundred 
years, the electors, on November 5, 1918, ratified the call for a 
Convention "to revise, alter or amend the State Constitution of 
Illinois." The action taken by the Fiftieth General Assembly 
in 1917 in voting to submit this question for the approval or 
rejection of the people, was more important and more broadly 
significant than if it had voted merely to submit a single specific 
amendment. An amendment would have proposed' a change in 
only one phase of the fundamental law of our State. The voters 
would have been casting their ballots for or against a definite 
proposed change ; whereas, now they have voted to open the 
whole Constitution to such changes or revisions as the Conven- 
tion soon to be elected may choose to propose. 


The general election of 1918, with the huge vote cast to open 
this wide door for revision of our Constitution, therefore may 
prove to be another mile-post in the political and economic his- 
tory of Illinois ; and while we hope for great benefits to be gained 
from the holding of this Convention, it also is possible that the 
finger on this mile-post may point the way up some rough 
by-path of doubtful and dangerous experiment, instead of along 
the broad highway of true progress. Almost equally menacing 
is the possibility that the Convention may not be able to agree 
upon such a revision or such amendments as the people would 
approve, and that, after years of eflfort, we shall have to continue 
to break our way through the new country of future years with 
the plow and scraper of 1870 instead of with modern road-making 


It is a part of the debt which we owe to our returning Illinois 
soldiers to see that not only shall none of the freedom which 
they have been fighting to safeguard and insure to others, be 
lost to them through our misunderstanding of the basic prin- 
ciples of permanent popular government, but rather that the 
government which they left shall be made better. 

A tremendous responsibility, therefore, rests upon each citizen 
who on November 5 voted for the proposition to call this Consti- 
tutional Convention. There is the utmost need that each should 
give some individual attention and some individual thought to 
the problems that are going to arise and demand solution. It is 
no time for citizens to be led away by shibboleths or slogans or 
popular leaders, or even to rest upon preconceived ideas. The 
great need is for tolerance, for a seeking after the latest infor- 
mation, for careful and intelligent study of such facts and argu- 
ments on both sides as can be obtained. 


It is an old and a "low-brow" political saying that one preju- 
dice is worth a thousand arguments. Illinois citizens must 
demonstrate once more that this sa3dng does not apply to them 
if real advancement is now to be made. After all, the question 
is, jiot who is for or who is against a pending proposition, but 
what the proposition is and what its effect will be. That some 
influential organization or some leader in public or civic life 
endorses or condemns this or that proposal, should not in itself 
be important. Of course, in so far as such endorsement or con- 
demnations are supported by fact and logic, they will have weight. 
Nevertheless, the important thing is that each individual citizen 
should arrive at an opinion for himself, and then be ready, with 
his voice and his ballot, to support that opinion. That will give 
us real majority opinion, which long experience has proved almost 
always to be sound, and with that opinion we can make progress 
beneficial to all. 

Sound opinion can be formed only upon a basis of accurate 
information, and it is in the hope of supplying such information 
as to the most important changes likely to be urged before the 
approaching Convention, that the Civic Federation has directed 
the publication of this series of Constitutional Convention studies. 

The aim will be to supply the material in simple, direct language 
and in such brief form as will be. convenient for the average 
busy citizen who finds all too little time to give to problems of 


Among the questions which will come before the Conven- 
tion, and therefore which will come before the voters, either in 
the campaign for the election of delegates or in the campaign 
for adoption or rejection of the new Constitution or such amend- 
ments to the present Constitution as the Convention may submit, 
are the following, to which it is the present plan to give con- 
sideration in pamphlets as indicated : 

1. Taxation. 

2. Representation in the General Assembly. 

3. Local Governments — County and City; Home Rule. 

4. Short Ballot. 

5. Court Reorganization. 

6. Direct Legislation. 

7. Facilitation of the Impeachment Process; The Recall. 

8. Suffrage. 

9. Liberalization of the Amending Article. 

10. Bill of Rights, Liquor Traffic, Excess Condemnation, etc. 

If other questions of major importance arise, additional pam- 
l^hlets may be published dealing with them. At present, however, 
it would seem that the constitutional changes thus far discussed 
fall naturally under one or another of the foregoing headings. 



In a modern democracy a Constitution is the framework of 
government. It may be said to be the contract or agreement 
which the people of a State or a Nation enter into, and by it fix 
in general the rights, privileges, duties and obligations which 
individuals may enjoy and perform without injustice or hurt to 
anyone. As the people can govern themselves only by electing 
officials to do the detailed work for them, it is necessary in the 
Constitution or agreement to say in a general way what powers 
the men who are to make and enforce the detailed laws shall 
have- — what things they may not do at all, and what things they 
may do if the people approve. 


The Constitution of the United States differs from the Con- 
stitutions of the several States chiefly in that the former is a 
grant by the States to the Federal Government, and particularly 
to the Congress, of definite powers broadly stated ; whereas, the 
latter fix limitations upon the powers of the State govern- 
ments — particularly, of course, upon the legislative bodies, which 
otherwise theoretically are sovereign and supreme. Bryce ("The 
American Commonwealth") points out that State Constitutions 
are the continuations of the royal colonial charters, and their 
origin goes even back to the charters of merchant guilds and 
trading companies. These charters were, naturally, the broadest 
possible grants of power, subject, however, to being ended or 
changed at any time by the royal hand which granted them. 
They amounted merely to the authority to govern in any way 
not specifically forbidden by limitations. When the Colonies 
threw off the royal yoke and became the States, the people took 
the place of the crown as the grantors of authority and the fixers 
of limitations upon their public servants. 


The chief changes from the Colonial Charters to the State 
Constitutions in the early days of the Republic were in the nature 
of limiting the powers of the executive, because of their distrust 
of kings, and later in the limitation of the powers of the State 
legislative body, when abuses began to appear. In the theory 
of State Constitutions, therefore, the Legislature is free to act 
in any manner not prohibited. Some State Constitutions, espe- 
cially those adopted since 1870, attempt to set forth in detail, 
either throughout the Constitution or in some of its sections, 
just what the legislative body may and shall do. In these cases 
it is held that by implication the Legislature is prohibited from 
taking any action not specifically allowed. 

With reference to the broad powers of the Legislature and 
the limitations of the Constitution in Illinois, the Illinois Supreme 
Court (Twenty-tirst Illinois, page 513 — Firemen's Benevolent 
Association vs. Lounsbury) has this to say: 

"The general grant of legislative power found in the Consti- 
tution confers upon the General Assembly all legislative power, 
and authorizes the lawmakers to pass any laws and do any acts 
which are embraced in the broad general word legislation as 
known and dclined in the English language. It authorizes the 
passage of any law which could be enacted in the most despotic 
government. It even authorizes everything which the people 
could enact in their primary capacity. Anything which they 
would have a right to embody in the Constitution itself. After 
this broad grant of legislative power, the Constitution in various 
provisions proceeds to limit and restrain its exercise. So far as 
was deemed necessary to prevent oppressive and unjust legisla- 
tion and only to the extent of these limitations, has the legislative 
power thus granted been circumscribed, and beyond these limi- 
tations the power exists in its full vigor." 

While this opinion was delivered in 1859, the situation has 
not changed except that more limitations are contained in the 
present Constitution of 1870 than were contained in the Consti- 
tution of 1848. 


Most State Constitutions, during the latter half of the nine- 
teenth century, to a greater or less extent departed from the 
early ideal of wide authority and few limitations. This departure 

has tended to a great rigidity in the organic laws of the States, 
which has made it difficult for many of them to keep pace with 
modern development, the Legislature being too restricted in 
power to pass proper statutory laws. In this respect Illinois 
is somewhat better ofif than a great many States. However, 
there is undoubted need of changing or relaxing some of the 
restrictions which no longer apply, and naturally enough the 
idea of a broadly phrased and elastic Constitution is in much 
favor. Times have changed, and limitations placed upon the 
executive power when memories of autocracy were fresh, and 
limitations placed upon legislative power as the result of some 
sorry experiences, now appear irksome and unduly harsh. Most 
of the limitations placed upon the legislative power in Illinois 
in 1848 and 1870, however, followed abuses which are written 
into the history of our State. To what extent can we modify 
them without inviting old troubles to reappear? What will be 
the boundary line of 1920 between too great rigidity and too 
great elasticity in our Constitution? 


The campaign for the adoption of the Constitutional Con- 
vention question was conducted by a broadly representative 
committee drawn from political and economic groups of widely 
divergent views. The members of this committee probably stood 
for the best and most intelligent thought in each of these groups. 
From the arguments for the Convention proposition which this 
committee united in putting forth, it is evident that there is little 
sentiment in favor of adding detailed restrictions upon the legis- 
lative power to those already existing in the Constitution. Unless 
there is a marked revulsion in popular sentiment between now 
and the time for holding the Convention, the tendency will be 
toward a relaxation of existing limitations and not at all toward 
writing into the Constitution detailed provisions designed to 
carry out various ideas and theories. 


Some limitations undoubtedly should be kept. Some perhaps 
can be eliminated, others broadly changed. A detailed discussion 
of these limitations and suggested changes will be attempted in 
the later pamphlets of this series. In general, however, if wise 


and broad-minded men are elected as Delegates, they probably 
will realize that many of our constitutional provisions can safely 
be liberalized, provided that the Convention adheres closely to the 
sound and approved basis of representative government. At the 
same time they will try to retain as much as possible of the present 
Constitution, with a view to avoiding unnecessary readjustment 
and confusion ; there will be a decided reluctance to disturb 
a long line of Supreme Court decisions which actually protect the 
public welfare. Histor}- of past Constitutional Conventions in 
Illinois shows a tendency to change the existing uocumcnt only 
where necessary to meet new conditions — and in each case to 
provide for a little easier method of future amendment than 
had been permitted before. Progress may still be achieved by 
following this precedent. 


The method of revising the State Constitution through the 
convention process in Illinois may be outlined as follows : 

1. Submission to the male electors by a two-thirds vote of both 

houses of the General Assembly of the proposition to call 
a Convention "to revise, alter or amend the Constitution 
of this State." 

2. Ratification of this proposal by a majority of all the electors 

(male) voting at the election. 

3. Passage of an Act by the next General Assembly providing 

for a "Convention to consist of double the number of mem- 
bers of the Senate, the members to be elected (by male 
voters) in the same manner, at the same places and in 
the same districts as State Senators," and designating the 
day, hour and place of meeting, and fixing and providing 
for the pay of members and of^cers and other expenses of 
the Convention. 

4. The Convention shall meet within three months after the 

election of members, whose qualifications must be the 
same as those of members of the Senate. The Convention 
shall prepare such revision, alteration or amendments as 
may be deemed necessary. 

5. Such revisions, alterations or amendments shall be submitted 

to the male voters for ratification or rejection at an elec- 
tion appointed for that purpose, not less than two, nor 


more than six months, after the final adjournment of the 
6. If approved by a majority of the electors (male) voting at 
such election, such revision, alterations or amendments 
shall take effect and take the place of the old constitutional 
provisions. Otherwise they shall have no efifect, and the 
old Constitution will remain in full force. 


The first two steps — the two most difficult steps, the securing 
of the two-thirds vote in the Legislature, and of the majority of 
all votes cast at a general election — have been taken. The most 
serious and constructive part of the job remains to be done. 

The next General Assembly must pass a Bill providing for 
the election of Delegates, and setting the time for the election 
and for the holding of the Convention, in accordance with the 
provisions of the Constitution. 

The number of Delegates is fixed by the Constitution at 102 — 
two to be elected from each of the fifty-one Senatorial districts 
of the State. The next Convention, therefore, will be just twice 
the size of the Illinois State Senate and two-thirds the size of the 
House of Representatives of our General Assembly, one State 
Senator and three State Representatives being elected to the 
General Assembly from each Senatorial district. 


In the enactment which it must make during the session begin- 
ning January 8, 1919, the General Assembly will have an abso- 
lutely free hand in only a few particulars. It may fix the time 
for the election of Delegates, but the Constitution stipulates 
that they must be elected in the same manner, at the same places 
and in the same districts as State Senators. The Assembly may 
name the place of meeting, and also the time, provided that the 
date set must be within three months after the date of electing 
Delegates. It may fix the compensation of the members and 
officers of the Convention, and provide for these and the other 
necessary expenses of the gathering. In other respects, how- 
ever, a Constitutional Convention appears to be free from legis- 
lative limitation, and former enactments of this character have 
shown a uniform tendency to concede to the Convention broad 


powers as to its own organization, such as stating that the Con- 
vention shall be the linal judge of the privileges and elections 
of its members ; that the privileges of members should be the 
same as those of members of the General Assembly, and author- 
izing the members to elect one of their own number President, 
and to select and fix the compensation of minor officers. The 
Constitution itself requires Delegates to take an oath to "support 
the Constitution of the United States and of the State of Illinois 
and to faithfully discharge their duties as members of the Con- 
vention" — which perhaps is well, since the Convention of 1870 
consumed the best part of four days in agreeing upon a different 
oath from that prescribed merely by the General Assembly. 

It might save the next Convention some of the confusion 
which attended the opening sessions of the jast one, if the next 
legislative Act should include a simple rule for preliminary 
organization. If this rule followed the procedure for opening 
the first regular session of the Senate or the House of Repre- 
sentatives it probably would conform to the underlying idea in 
all Illinois Constitutions that the Constitutional Convention and 
the General Assembly are closely (see page 17) related. 


The Convention may fix the time for its own recesses and 
final adjournment. It may determine the manner in which such 
revisions, alterations or amendments as it may agree upon shall 
be submitted to the electors. It must provide for such sub- 
mission, and fix the time for the election "for that purpose" 
which, however, the Constitution requires shall be called not 
less than two, nor more than six, months after its final adjourn- 


A question now under debate, and which must be settled by 
the next General Assembly, asks whether candidates for Dele- 
gates must strive for party nominations in a costly direct pri- 
mary, as candidates for State Senator and most other public 
offices now have to do, or whether it is in the power of the 
General Assembly to provide, if it thinks best, some simpler 
method of selection, either through nomination by party con- 
vention, or through nomination by petition and a non-partisan 

election. Each plan has its friends, and many assert that either 
would be more likely to encourage the better and therefore the 
busier men of the State of all classes to become candidates for 
this service than would the direct primary method. Many law- 
yers, however, believe that the language of the Constitution will 
require the use of the direct primary method of nomination 
unless the present direct primary law is changed before the Act 
calling the Convention goes into effect. 


The history of the election of Delegates to the Convention 
of 1870, as found in old newspaper files, indicates that while 
nominations were made by political parties, in some instances 
independent candidates were finally elected. While the Con- 
vention was made up of forty-four Republicans and forty-one 
Democrats, fifteen of the number appear to have been elected, 
nominally at least, as Independents, and the whole record of that 
Convention shows few, if any, important divisions along party 

In Chicago and Cook County the offices to be filled at the 
same time that the Delegates were to be elected were, Mayor, 
Treasurer, Collector, Attorney, Clerk of Police Court, Judge and 
Clerk of Superior Court, Judge and Clerk of County Court, 
County Treasurer, School Commissioner, Surveyor, Police Com- 
missioner, two Justices of the Peace, and Town Officers in South 
Chicago, West Chicago and North Chicago. The Republican 
party held its County Convention under chairmanship of Judge 
L. B. Otis, and made nominations for the regular offices, and 
then the Delegates from the three Assembly Districts to which 
Cook County was then entitled (it now has nineteen such dis- 
tricts and no reapportionment has been made since 1901) met 
in district conventions and on Sept. 14, 1869, made nominations 
as follows : 

59th District— Joseph Medill, J. B. Bradwell and L. L. Bond. 
60th Districts — J. Y. Scammon and J. K. Thompson, 
61st District — S. H. McCrea and James L. Stark. 

There appears to have been a large element who did not favor 
the nominees of this Convention, and on Saturday, September 25, 
a "Citizens' Ticket" was announced for all offices, including the 


following nominees for members of the Constitutional Con- 
vention : 

59tli District — S. S. Hayes, Joseph Medill and John C. Haines. 
60th District — Charles Hitchcock and W. F. Coolbaugh. 
61st District — Elliott Anthony and Daniel Cameron. 

The Democrats refrained from making nominations for this 
election, but threw their support to this latter ticket, which 
swept the county by ten thousand majority (a landslide in that 
day) on November 2, 1869. The Convention candidates on the 
"Citizens' Ticket" Avere among the leading men of the commu- 
nity and took a leading part in framing the work of the Con- 


The action taken in 1869 suggests that citizens still have an 
opportunity to protest against weak or objectionable party nomi- 
nees, however chosen, and that in any district where it seems 
desirable petitions may be filed for independent candidates of 
ability and good reputation. The Convention of 1870 was made 
up of able men, for the most part chosen under partisan machin- 
ery, however ; and it is not unreasonable to expect that the 
responsible party leaders of today will do all in their power to 
put forward men of the same high caliber. The great difficulty 
of today lies in the danger of nominations by minorities and the 
decentralization of responsibility under the present direct pri- 
mary law. 


On the cjuestion of the date to be fixed for the election of 
members of the Constitutional Convention, the next General 
Assembly is likely to receive a number of suggestions. 

The eighty-five Delegates to the last Constitutional Conven- 
tion were elected on the Tuesday after the first Monday in 
November, 1869 (November 2). The Convention met on the 
third Monday of December, 1869. In the preceding Constitu- 
tional Convention (that of 1861-62, whose work was rejected at 
the polls) the seventy-five Delegates were elected and convened 
at the same seasons of the year 1861. The 162 Delegates chosen 
to the Convention of 1847-48 were elected on the third Monday 


in April, 1847, and convened on the first Monday of June next 

It has been suggested that the election of members for the 
next Convention should be held in November, 1919, which would 
enable the Convention to meet in December, 1919. There is no 
general election day throughout the State next year, so that 
there probably would have to be a special election, with possibly 
a special primary election preceding it. 

It is also suggested that if the Act providing for the Con- 
vention could be passed by a two-thirds vote of both Houses 
with an emergency clause, so that it would take effect imme- 
diately (instead of on July 1, 1919 — the date when the ordinary 
enactments of the next General Assembly would take effect) 
the election of Delegates could be held earlier in the year, per- 
mitting an earlier meeting of the Convention. In this event it 
is suggested that if primary elections must be held to nominate, 
thc}^ might be set, for the sake of saving expense, to coincide 
either with the municipal elections held on the first Monday of 
April or with those held on the third Monday in April, 1919. 
Should any method be devised of holding only one election for 
Delegates, it is contended that it might be possible to hold the 
election on one or the other of these days. If, as appears likely, 
however, a primary election, either of delegates to a nominating 
convention, or directly for the nomination of members of the 
Constitutional Convention, is found necessary, this latter sug- 
gestion proposes that the election proper take place in June. 


The selection of a date for the election of members of the 
Constitutional Convention involves consideration of the most 
favorable time for the election at which the Convention will 
submit its proposed changes in the Constitution to the electors 
for approval or rejection. A problem will confront the General 
Assembly and the Constitutional Convention in the present case 
which did not appear in 1870. In 1870 there was no national 
election and no election of important State officers, whereas 
1920 will be the year of a Presidential election, and Illinois will 
at the same time be voting for a United States Senator. Governor, 
and most of her other important State of^cials. 

Those who favor the selection of members of the Constitu- 


tional Con\ention early in 1919, point out that this procedure 
would enable the Convention to meet in July, 1919, organize, 
perhaps appoint committees to be working on some of the more 
difficult prolilems, and get down to business in September after 
a recess for the hot months of July and August. This would 
permit the submission of the Convention's proposals early in 
1920, before the attention of the public would be distracted by 
questions of partisan and personal politics. Those who favor 
this plan also point out that while a special election is desirable 
for such submission, the selection of a day which would coincide 
with one or the other group of municipal elections in April might 
be considered for the sake of saving expense. It is possible that 
objection will be raised to this plan for fixing the dates of elec- 
tion on the ground that the voters would not have enough time 
to select the most desirable Delegates to the Convention. 


Those who believe the Delegates ought not to be elected 
until November, 1919, agree that 1920, with its State and National 
campaigns in progress, would be a poor time to ask the voters 
for close attention to such an important matter as revising their 
State Constitution. They point out, however, that the Conven- 
tion would be at liberty to continue its sessions and not submit 
its work until after the smoke of partisan battles had cleared 
away. In every instance it has been the custom of Illinois Con- 
stitutional Conventions to submit their proposed revisions at a 
special election at which no other matter and no candidacies 
were to be decided. While this means the expense of an extra 
election, which today in Illinois would be considerable, it has the 
advantage of securing the undivided attention of the voters for 
the subject in hand, and has proved in the past worth all that it 
costs in the registering of a real public opinion. If the people 
will really participate and not be remiss in their duties, a special 
election held in late November or early December might be 
worth while, and still would give opportunity for readjustment 
in the next regular session of the General Assembly. 

Constitutional Conventions always have been and are free to 
fix the time for submitting proposed Constitutional changes, pro- 
vided only that they must be submitted within not less than 
two, nor more than six, months after the Convention has 


In 1847 the legislative Act stipulated that the amendments, 
revisions or alterations shall be submitted on the fourth Monday 
of October, 1847, and that the vote on the proposals should be 
canvassed by the next General Assembly, but added : "Pro- 
vided that if the Convention shall fix any other time for holding 
the election or the manner of canvassing the votes, then such 
manner as is pointed out by the Convention shall be adopted." 

The Constitutional revisions of 1847-48 were voted upon March 
6, 1848; those of 1862 were voted upon June 17, 1862, and those 
of 1870, July 2, 1870. 


In the Convention of 1870 "members of the Convention and 
their secretaries and doorkeepers" were entitled to receive for 
their compensation six dollars per day and the mileage then 
allowed by law to members of the General Assembly. In the 
Convention of 1861-62, Delegates, secretaries and doorkeepers 
were allowed four dollars per day and the mileage allowed to 
members of the General Assembly. In the Convention of 1847-48 
the convening Act allowed for the same mileage and the same 
per diem allowance (then three dollars) as that of the members 
of the General Assembly. 

The General Assembly always has required the Secretary of 
State to supply the necessary stationery and supplies and docu- 
ments and to do the necessary printing, except in 1847, when a 
special printer was provided. All public officers have always 
been required by the General Assembly to supply such infor- 
mation as the Convention might demand. 

On the question of compensation for Delegates, Professor 
Walter Fairlie Dodd, Director of the Illinois State Legislative 
Reference Bureau, makes some interesting suggestions in his 
"Constitutional Conventions in Illinois" (pp. 58-59). Objec- 
tions, he points out, may be raised to the payment of a straight 
per diem as tending to prolong the sessions of the Convention 
unduly; to the payment of a per diem for a limited period of 
time, as tending to shorten the session to the time fixed for the 
compensation, whether the work were finished, or the time ripe 
for submission or not ; and to a lump sum for the entire service 
rendered, on the ground that it might tend to adjournment before 
the work were properly completed. The latter plan, however, he 
deems the best suited of the three ; suggests $1,000 for each Dele- 


gate as the proper compensation, with a part of the payment 
held back until the close of the session. This is the amount pro- 
vided in the Michigan State Constitution. 

Logically, a lump sum compensation would be the "Illinois 
plan" of the present day: it is the method now used in paying 
members of the General Assembly, and constitutional revision 
in Illinois always has been connected closely with the legislative 

It may be pointed out that in the past our Constitutional 
Conventions have been composed chiefly of really big men, and 
there appears to be no indication that the question of the per 
diem ever influenced the delegates. It is to be hoped that the 
approaching Convention also will be made up of men who will 
not be influenced by this question. The suggestion for a limited 
per diem appears wholly unwise. An adequate compensation in 
the interest of securing as delegates some really representative 
men who otherwise could not afTord to serve, particularly if it 
proves necessary for candidates to go through the expensive pri- 
mary as well as the final election, undoubtedly is just. 


The Constitution provides that the Delegates shall have the 
same qualifications as members of the Senate, and that vacancies 
occurring in the Convention shall be filled in the same manner 
as those occurring in the General Assembly. This is by special 
election called by the Governor. 

A Senator must be at least twenty-five years of age, a citizen 
of the United States, a resident of the State for at least five years, 

*Thi3 probably has been on the theory that in revising their State Consti- 
tution the people were acting in their primary legislative capacity. Under the 
two earlier Constitutions the vote to ratify the call for a Convention or (after 
1848) to adopt a Constitutional Amendment was required to be a majority of 
electors voting for members of the House of Ecprescnt-atives. The present 
Constitution requires a proposal to issue State bflnds in excess of $250,000 to 
be approved by a majority of the votes east for members of the General 
Assembly. Qualifications of delegates have always been those of one or both 
branches of the General Assembly, and the number of delegates has equaled 
successively the number of members of the General Assembly, the number of 
members of the House of Eepresentatives, and twice the number of State 
Senators. The qualifications of voters at delegate elections have generally been 
fixed by the General Assembly as the same as those qualified to vote for members 
of the General Assembly. 


and for at least two years next preceding his election a resident 
of the territory forming the district from which he is elected. 

No Judge or Clerk of any Court, Secretary of State, Attorney 
General, State's Attorney, Recorder, Sheriff, or Collector of Pub- 
lic Revenues, member of either House of Congress, or persons 
holding any lucrative office under the United States or this State, 
or any foreign government (offices in the militia, notaries public 
and justices of the peace are excepted), is eligible to the Illinois 
State Senate (Art. Ill, Sec. 3), and therefore is not eligible to 
become a member of the Constitutional Convention. Professor 
Dodd ("Constitutional Conventions in Illinois," p. 57) argues 
that this does not preclude members of the General Assembly 
from serving as delegates to the Convention. 

As the Conventions of 1848, 1862 and 1870 have each included 
among the members a few of the more prominent members of 
the current General Assembly, this reasoning appears to have the 
support of precedent. 


The first Illinois Constitution, that of 1818, became effective 
without being submitted for ratification of the electors. Article 
VII of that instrument failed to require future Constitutional 
Conventions to submit their revisions for popular approval or 
rejection. Nevertheless, the Convention of 1848 decided that it 
was in duty bound to submit its work to the voters, although the 
question of its final authority to revise the basic law was raised 
at the time, and Article XI — Commons — Vv^as declared by the 
Convention to be a part of the State Constitution without being 
referred to the people. The Constitution of 1848 (Art. Ill, Sec. 1), 
however, failed to include provision for final submission of future 
revisions, and the question was raised in the Convention of 1862 
and mentioned in the Convention of 1870, although both of these 
Conventions submitted their work to the voters. 

The present Constitution (1870) requires a submission of the 
Convention's proposals within a given time after final adjourn- 
ment at an election appointed for that purpose, and stipulates that 
such proposals must receive a majority of the votes cast at such 
election in order to be adopted. 

The publication of the proposed revision or amendments 
and the manner of submission is left wholly to the judgment of 
the Convention, in Illinois as it is generally in other States. 


Past legislative acts calling Illinois Conventions generally have 
stated that: "The amendments shall be so prepared and distin- 
guished by numbers or otherwise that they can be voted upon 
separately, unless the convention shall be of opinion that it is 
impracticable. In cither case the Convention shall prescribe tiie 
form or manner of voting." 


In New York State in 1916 the Convention submitted its 
entire revision of the State Constitution (by the way, a rather 
voluminous and detailed instrument) as a whole. The combined 
opposition of all the groups who objected, each to some single 
provision of the new Constitution, overwhelmingly defeated the 
laborious efl'ort of many unusually able men, and prevented many 
public improvements. Such a result in Illinois, after years of 
efifort to secure much needed revisions along sane lines, would 
be a discouraging misfortune. Even a worse experience, how- 
ever, might occur. The New York Convention was trying to 
escape the mistake which had been made by the Ohio Convention 
of 1912. That Convention proceeded to revise and rewrite the 
entire Constitution, involving the application of several ex- 
treme and new ideas, and then submitted the revision in forty- 
two separate proposals, article by article and section by section. 
The vote was light at that special election, and comparatively 
few of the voters attempted to pass judgment on all the pro- 
posals. They voted on those in which they were especially inter- 
ested, and let the rest go. Thus each interested group, many of 
them actually by far in the minority, wrote its pet hobby into 
the State's basic law. Few proposals failed. In some respects 
the resulting Constitution is farther behind than its predecessor. 
Some progress was made, but the general result is regarded by 
many as extremely unsatisfactory. Lack of coherence is, of 
course, an attendant danger of such a method of submission. 

In Massachusetts a Constitutional Convention convened in 
June, 1917; submitted three proposed amendments in Novem- 
ber, 1917; took a recess of several months, and then submitted 
separately nineteen additional amendments which were voted 
upon in November, 1918. The latter number of submissions 
would be a good deal of a burden to put upon the electorate, if 
the changes proposed involved questions of vital importance to 
the people. 


The State of Louisiana held a Constitutional Convention in 
1913 following a favorable vote of the people upon the question 
of holding a Constitutional Convention. Delegates were elected 
at the same time that the question was voted upon. The Con- 
vention was in session only thirteen days and was made up en- 
tirely of Democrats. The Constitution became effective without 
being submitted to the voters on Nov. 23, 1913. 

The legislature of the State of North Carolina passed an Act 
in 1917 providing that the question of holding a convention 
should be submitted to the voters at the general eleetion in 1918, 
and that delegates to the convention should be elected at the 
same time. A letter received from the Secretary of State under 
date of Dec. 9, states : "Owing to existing conditions, it was 
agreed by both political parties in the State that no delegates 
be nominated." 


In each of its revisions by Convention thus far, Illinois has 
followed a middle course, which appears sane, and certainly has 
resulted in progress and much satisfaction. Few material changes 
have actually been made in either the Convention of 1848 or the 
Convention of 1870. So much of the existing Constitution as 
has actually stood in no need of change has been left intact, and 
such changes as involved no great amount of debate in the Con- 
vention have been included with the unchanged part of the Consti- 
tution and submitted as one document. Thus in each case a 
complete and coherent Constitution was submitted as a whole 
to the voters, so that if adopted it would take the place of the 
existing instrument. Then the matters which had aroused con- 
troversies in the Convention were submitted at the same time 
with the main body of the Constitution, so that they could be 
voted upon separately. The matters thus separately submitted 
were, of course, only such as had behind them any apparent, real 
demand and such as a majority of the delegates deemed important 
enough for such separate submission. If such independent propo- 
sals were adopted they became a part of the Constitution, taking the 
place of any conflicting proposals which might have been included 
in the main body of the revised Constitution as adopted. Thus a 
voter could vote for the Constitution which he favored as a whole 
and also could vote to substitute a special provision, separately 
submitted, for the provisions contained in the main proposal. 

He did not have to vote to defeat the whole document if he 
wished to defeat the separate proposal. This has resulted in 
progress in IlHnois in the past. The Conventions ha\ c submitted 
only a few separate proposals — the really important ones. The 
people have been able to act intelligently, and good has resulted. 

The Convention of 1847-48 submitted a complete Constitution 
following closely the Constitution of 1818, revised to meet cer- 
tain generally recognized needs, and submitted separately an 
article directing the enactment of laws to prohibit the immi- 
gration of colored people, free or slave, into Illinois, and also 
an article imposing a two-mill tax, the proceeds of which could 
be applied to retiring the State's indebtedness other than that 
incurred for schools and the canal. All three proposals were 

The Convention of 1861-62 submitted a general revision of 
the Constitution of 1848 and five separate proposals — an article 
in relation to banks and currency ; a reapportionment of Congres- 
sional Districts, and the following proposals afl:'ecting Negroes, 
namely : 1, that no Negro, or Mulatto should migrate to or settle 
in this State ; 2, that no Negro or Mulatto should have the right 
of suffrage or hold any office ; 3, that the General Assembly 
should pass all laws necessary to carry these two proposals into 
clTect. All of these proposals failed with the defeat of the pro- 
posed Constitution by the electors, although the three proposals 
relating to Negroes received majority votes. 

The Convention of 1870 submitted, in addition to its general 
revision of the Constitution, eight separate proposals, all of 
which were adopted. They were : 1, the article entitled Counties ; 
2, the article entitled Warehouses ; 3, the proposal to require a 
three-fifths vote to remove county seats; 4, the section relating 
to the Illinois Central Railroad ; 5, the section relating to rail- 
roads in the article on Corporations ; 6, the section relating to 
municipal subscriptions to railroad or private corporations ; 7, 
the section relating to the Canal ; 8, the section relating to 
Minority Representation. 


The hope is freely expressed among thoughtful citizens that 
the voters will give the most careful attention to the selection 
of Delegates to the next Constitutional Convention, whenever 
and however that election may be held. It is assumed that men 


of moral worth will be chosen, but, in addition, it is pointed out 
that the Delegates elected should be men with a thorough under- 
standing of the problems likely to arise, and whos^ good judg- 
ment and sense of public responsibility may be relied upon. Such 
men were in the majority in the Conventions of 1848 and 1870, 
but not, apparently, in the Convention of 1862.* It was the early 
injudicious actions of a majority in that Convention which led 
the people to distrust its actions and later to reject its proposals. 
Upon the kind of men that are elected to make up the Conven- 
tion, it is suggested, therefore, may largely depend the results 
and benefits to be derived. 

It is generally agreed that partisan strife and personal political 
ambition should play no part in this important gathering. It is 
to be hoped that the most representative men will be elected by 
the various districts throughout the State, so that no important 
group will be without its spokesman in the Convention. Dele- 
gates elected, however, will soon realize that they are chosen to 
be something more than mere spokesmen for the group with which 
they happen to be affiliated or most in sympathy. In so far as 
they have knowledge of the needs, views and desires of a con- 
siderable part of the people, they will be valuable to the Conven- 
tion ; but their responsibility will not be for any single group, but 
for the future and enduring welfare of the people of the whole 
State of IlHnois. 


The Civic Federation, in common with many forward-looking 
citizens, believes that no candidate for election as a delegate 
should be asked or consent to sign a written pledge binding 
himself to favor or oppose this or that particular change, or to 
follow this of that course of action. A delegate should be free 
to act in accordance with the best light he can get and to act for 
all of the people. 

*The Convention of 1862 numbered many able men, including ex-Gov- 
ernor Augustus C. French, W. Selden Gale of Knox County, John Dement 
of Lee, president pro tem of the Conventions of '62 and '70, and a member 
of the Convention of '48; and Melville W. Fuller, afterward Chief Justice 
of the United States Supreme Court; John Wentworth, and Elliott Anthony, 
of Cook County, but their sane influence failed to dominate the early meet- 
ings of that assemblage. Among the leading figures in the Convention of 
1848 were Judge David Davis, and Thompson Campbell, who resigned as 
Secretary of State to become a candidate for delegate to the convention. 

This treedom of action will not interfere with a free expression 
of opinion by prosj^eotive Delegates as to important matters at 

The signing of secret private pledges all too often amounts to 
accepting the bribe of organized support in return for a promise 
to vote in the Convention. It is in spirit the violation of the oath 
of ofifice which every member of the General Assembly is required 
to take. It probabi}- would constitute the violation of an Act 
placed on the statute books in 1917, forbidding such pledges on 
the part of candidates for elective oitices. It is almost as bad as 
electing a judge on a pledge to render a certain opinion. It is 
un-American, and should be frowned upon by citizens and by 


NOV. 5, 1918 

Total male vote 975,545 

Votes for Convention 562,012 

Majority for Convention 74,239 

On the same day the state of Idaho voted upon a similar proposal, 
but, according- to a letter from the Secretary of State, dated Dec. 10, 
1918, rejected the proposal by a large majority. 


(Supplement to Study No. 1 


As a supplement to this pamphlet there soon will be published, 
"Illinois Constitutions" — an arrangement of the Constitution of 
1870 with the corresponding provisions of the Constitutions of 1818 
and 1848 in parallel columns. 

Please send in your application if you wish to have this supple- 
ment, as only a small edition will be printed, and there will be no 
effort at general circulation. 



Amending Article, 7. 
Anthony Elliott, 15. 

Bill of Rights. 7. 
Bradwell, J. B., 14. 
Bond, L. L., 14. 

Cameron, Daniel, 15. 

Campbell, Thompson, 24. 

Character of Delegates, 24, 25. 

City and County Government, 7. 

Compensation of Delegates, 18, 19. 

Constitution Defined, 8; State, Author- 
ity Granted by, 9; Development, 8, 
10; Limitations, 9, 10, 11; Origin, 8; 
What kind does Illinois want, 10; Re- 
vision by Convention: In Illinois 
now. 11, 12; In other States, 21, 22. 

Conventions, nominating, 13, 14, 16. 

Conventions, Constitutional, 1848, 15, 
18, 19, 20; 1862. 15, 20; 1870, 15,16, 18, 
20; Other States, 21, 22; How Called, 
11; Outline of, 11, 12; Possibilities, 5, 
6; Broad powers, 13; Employes, 18. 

Coolbaugh, W. F., 15. 

County and City Government, 7. 

Courts, Reorganization of, 7. 

Davis, David, 24. 

Delegates — Method of election, 13-15; 
Time of election, 15, 16; Time of 
election in the past, 15; Compensa- 
tion of, 18, 19; Oath taken by, 13 ;_ 
Qualifications, technical, 19, 20; Qual- 
ifications, Character, 26; In past 
Conventions, 15, 24; unpledged, 25. 

Dement, John, 24. 

Direct Legislation, 7. ' 

Dodd. W. F., 18, 20. 

Elections for Delegates — Method, 13- 
15; Time, 15, 16. 

Excess Condemnation, 7. 

French, Augusts C. (Gov.), 24. 
Fuller, Melville W., 24. 

Gale, W. Selden. 24. 

General Assembly, powers in general, 

9; In re Constitutional Conventions, 

12, 13. 

Haines, John C, 15. 
Hayes, S. S., 15. 
Hitchcock, Charles, 15. 
Home Rule, 7. 

Initiative and Referendum (Direct 

Legislation), 7. 
Impeachment — Recall, 7. 

Limitations, 6-11; Desirable, 10, 11; 

Excessive, 9, 10. 
Liquor Traffic, 7. 

McCrea, S. H., 14. 
Medill. Joseph, 14. 15. 

Oath for Delegates, 13. 

Pledging of Delegates, 25. 

Qualifications of Delegates, 19, 20, 25. 

Recall and Impeachment, 7. 
Representation in General Assembly, 

Scammon, J. Y., 14. 

Short Ballot, 7. 

Starke, James L., 14. 

Subjects of Series, 7. 

Submission of Proposals — Time. 16, 17; 

Manner, 21-23. 
Suffrage, 7. 

Taxation, 7. 
Thompson, J. K., 14. 

Wentworth, John, 24. 


Published by 

The Civic Federation of Chicago 

1009 The Temple 
La Salle and Monroe Streets 

JOSEPH E. OTIS, President 

THOMAS E. DONNELLEY, Vice-President 

EUFUS C. DAWES, Treasurer 


Executive Committee 

The Officers ;iud 





Advisory Board 









Additional copies may be obtained on request 

"A frequent recurrence to the fundamental prin- 
ciples of civil government is absolutely necessary to 
preserve the blessings of liberty." Illinois State 
Constitution, Art. 11, Sec. 20.